Kildow shakes off scary memory on Olympic course

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SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP) – Nearly a year after her Olympic hopes were ruined by a scary crash in downhill training, Lindsey Kildow finished second in a World Cup super-giant slalom Friday on the same course used at the Turin Games.

Kildow came within 0.09 seconds of winner Renate Goetschl.

The American was hospitalized overnight following her crash at the Olympics. She came back and competed in all four of her events – downhill, combined, super-G and slalom – but pain limited her performance, and her best result was seventh in super-G.

“It just gives me confidence that I could have done it, and today I did. I wanted to prove something to myself on this hill. I was really excited to get back here,” Kildow said. “It was definitely revenge. I knew I could do it here.”

Goetschl’s win was her third in four super-G races this season and the 43rd World Cup victory of the Austrian’s career. She completed the course in 1 minute, 24.90 seconds. Christine Sponring of Austria was third, 0.90 out, for the second top-three finish of her career following a series of injuries. “I’m having a lot of fun right now,” said Goetschl, who considered retirement after injuring herself and undergoing surgery at the end of last season.

“It’s not easy to win on this hill because it’s not very difficult. It’s always interesting though, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Julia Mancuso finished eighth, ending her run of five straight top-three finishes. But she still picked up points on Austrians Marlies Schild and Nicole Hosp, the two women ahead of her in the overall World Cup standings. Hosp finished 11th and Schild was 18th.

Mancuso is smaller than Kildow and Goetschl, and U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser noted she doesn’t carry enough speed to win on the Fraiteve Olympique course – which is wider than most speed courses and contains fewer turns.

“She needs rockets on this hill. If she has a perfect run, she has a chance to be on the podium,” Hoedlmoser said. “But she told me she’s totally cool. Julia’s realistic. She had a good run and she knows it.”

Schild leads the overall standings with 894 points, Hosp is second with 852 and Mancuso is third with 826. Goetschl is fourth with 821 points.

Hosp, who plans to skip Saturday’s downhill here, said Mancuso is the favorite for the overall title.

“She’s doing three disciplines at the moment very, very well – and also the combined,” Hosp said.

It’s been an exciting month for Kildow.

On New Year’s Eve, she became engaged to Thomas Vonn, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team.

“We were with some other girls on the team and when the fireworks went off, he asked me,” Kildow said.

A wedding date hasn’t been set yet, but it likely will be in the summer of 2008. For now, Kildow said she and Vonn are busy preparing to move into a house they built in Park City, Utah. Kildow was happy she made her peace with the Olympic hill before her next big event – the world championships that begin next week in Are, Sweden.

She had crashed in her previous two downhills.

“It’s good just to get on the podium, to get my confidence back before worlds,” she said. “I was a little bit down after the last couple of races.”

AP-ES-01-26-07 1541EST

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